Printer ink cartridges, like many other goods, have expiration dates. An ink cartridge has a shelf life and cannot be stored for an indefinite period of time, whether inside or outside the printer.
Here in this post, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the useful life of this expensive inkjet printer consumable.
Printer ink formulations are purposely designed to evaporate quickly. It’s because of rapid-drying that your inkjet produces smudge-free prints. (To know more, you can read our post on how printer ink works.)
Over time, the ink inside a cartridge dries out. It begins to settle.
Exposure to air accelerates evaporation of ink and may also degrade its composition.
Even if the ink cartridge is intact in an airtight package, it will still continue to dry up. Over a period of time, the oxidation process will ruin the ink.
The shelf life of an ink cartridge is the estimated timeframe it will last if kept in its sealed package. The shelf life of an ink cartridge is indicated by its expiration date.
OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) inks typically have a shelf life of around two years. Compatible inks, on the other hand, generally have a shelf life up to three years.
Keep in mind that all ink cartridges sold on the Internet or at your local office supplies store may not have labeled expiration date.
So, what if there is no expiration date on your ink cartridge?
Well, as a safe measure, you should assume the shelf life to be around one to two years.
Since the seals have been taken off, the ink cartridges installed on your inkjet printer are likely to dry up more quickly.
This is why it’s important to print at least one or two pages each week or fortnight.
This way, the ink is far less likely to clog, both inside the cartridge chamber and on the printhead.
Put simply, when you regularly use your inkjet printer, the ink inside a cartridge will remain usable until its expiration date.
You should not.
Printer manufacturers and sellers of third-party compatible and remanufactured inks encourage consumers to use ink cartridges before their expiry dates for a reason.
Expired inks can clog or corrode the printhead and other ink delivery systems within your printer.
In other words, expired ink cartridges can potentially damage your printer.
Some of the damages can be so costly to repair that you’d simple want to buy a new inkjet.
Expiry date is generally found on the side of an ink cartridge.
In some cases, it is published on the side of the cartridge box.
Different manufactures indicate this information in different ways.
HP inks, for instance, have an ‘install by’ date, indicated by six digits, after the first four digits that indicate the country of origin.
Epson refers to it as ‘best if used by’ date. However, the company recommends that you replace cartridges within six months, regardless of whether they are empty or not, for optimal print quality.
Some ink cartridges are stamped with both an expiration date and a warranty date.
Some third-party manufactures (of compatible and refurbished cartridges) generally mention a warranty date only.
Like expiration dates, warranty dates vary by manufacturer. Typically, the warranty date is one year from the date of purchase.
After the ‘warranty date,’ the manufacture will no longer cover the cartridge for defects or damages.
The cartridge may, however, work fine beyond the warranty date.
It’s frustrating to see the signs that your cartridge is left with last few drops of ink when you don’t have spare cartridges at home or in office.
What if you need to print something urgently? Can a non-operational printer lead to business interruption?
It is due to such concerns that most people prefer to stock up on printer cartridges.
Yes, you can avail of discounts by purchasing cartridges in bulk. It’s one of the best ways to lower your annual printing costs by 5-10%.
But, you should buy only as many cartridges as you can use within one or two years.
It pays to know how to care for ink cartridges, whether they are in storage or have been installed on your printer.
Ink cartridges, should, for instance, be stored in a cool and dry environment.
Yes, you want to use every last drop of ink and do so in a manner that your cartridge lasts longer.
But, remember not to use an ink cartridge if it’s beyond its expiration date.
You can buy affordable ink cartridges for your HP, Brother, Canon, or Epson printer right away.